I’m finishing another first-draft. A most-welcome turn of events. 

It means I’ve got three projects – actually, four, if you count the short-film script – that I can work on over the coming weeks.

Writing first-drafts is a bit like holding onto the dashboard as your rocket-ship* disintegrates around you during re-entry. You know the place is a mess, but you’re just  hoping you’ll make it to the ground alive.  

But afterwards, with a bit of luck, you’re able to stand back and survey the smoking wreckage, and see the possibilities.

I find first drafts vexacious because – and this will make some people raise an eyebrow – I’m a bit of a perfectionist. It irks me that I can’t define my own story, even on the first run through.

But I learned very quickly to put my head down and get the bloody thing written. Despite all the glitches, the errors and the gaping, narrative-shaped holes of logic. Because a first-draft acts as a kind of template.

And I like that curious kind of osmosis that begins to occur between yourself and the finished draft over the following weeks and months. It sits in a corner, or on a hard drive, and those pages act like a two-way radio receiver to the brain. Something happens.

Strange new possibilities, connections and themes begin to swirl around the back of your head while you’re doing, or thinking about, something else, and when you’re asleep.

You can constantly hear the muffled conversation of those characters debating and defining, like insomniac neighbours, their own destinies.

The script seems to evolve and mutate all by itself, so that by the time you open the document and read it again, it’s already become something else, something more than what it was.  

I like that feeling. A lot.

* You see, this is exactly the kind of outdated technological terminology that’ll ensure my science-fiction spec, should I be foolish enough to attempt one, will never be picked up.